Nottinghamshire are in pole position to register their first win back in Division One of the LV= Insurance County Championship despite losing a day to rain after bowling Somerset out for 173 at Trent Bridge.
Bad weather had meant Friday was a complete wash-out but Nottinghamshire suffered no loss of momentum after reducing their opponents to 19 for two on Thursday evening in reply to their own 256, with Brett Hutton stealing the spotlight from Stuart Broad with six wickets for 45 – his best figures for Nottinghamshire – as Somerset were dismissed soon after lunch on day three.
It would have been worse for the West Country visitors had Josh Davey, with 60 off 66 balls, not frustrated Nottinghamshire by leading a 55-run stand for the last wicket.
The home side, who lost wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Moores to injury, had to work hard for their runs in the second innings but closed a marathon final session at 7.23pm on 187 for six with a lead of 270 to take into the last day.
England’s Broad struggled to find any rhythm in his first outing since February and a morning session that had begun with the prospect of a duel with Aussie Cameron Bancroft ended with local favourite Hutton dominating the highlights reel, South African Dane Paterson claiming arguably the two most important wickets of the session and Scotland international Davey winning a battle to avoid the follow-on with his second first-class fifty in Somerset colours.
Broad had Bancroft playing and missing early on but ended the innings wicketless. It was Paterson who made the first incisions as Somerset’s overnight 28 for two turned to 50 for four. He had Bancroft leg before trying to work to midwicket and, in his next over, avenged a couple of handsome boundaries from Tom Abell by finding an outside edge to remove the Somerset skipper, Ben Duckett taking an excellent low catch to his right at second slip.
Hutton’s swing under heavy cloud cover then came into its own. He pinned Tom Kohler-Cadmore plumb in front before taking three wickets in the space of seven balls. He uprooted Lewis Gregory’s middle stump with a ball that veered hugely before pitching, had Craig Overton leg before with a near-repeat delivery next ball, and squared up left-hander James Rew with one that moved away to clip off stump, at which point Somerset were deeply imperilled at 87 for eight, still 20 short of avoiding the follow-on.
Davey and Jack Leach put paid to that possibility and though Leach fell to all-rounder Lyndon James at 118 for nine, Davey was not done. Supported by the experience of Peter Siddle at the other end, the Aberdonian seamer’s efforts delayed lunch by 30 minutes. He completed his own fifty from 55 balls with four fours, plus two sixes off James.
Nottinghamshire took a lead of 83 on first innings but there were concerns about Moores, who had to leave the field after taking a blow to the left hand and did not return after the interval. Joe Clarke took the gloves for the remainder of the innings.
There was encouragement for Somerset before tea as Nottinghamshire began their second innings when danger man Duckett fell for 15, clipping Siddle’s first ball in the air to midwicket. More was to follow at the start of the final session, which began with 45 overs still left in the day.
Gregory, eager to add to his seven first-innings wickets, picked up a first in the second when Haseeb Hameed, who had reached 34 without ever looking fully settled, was caught at first slip via an inside edge on to pad, Kohler-Cadmore’s low catch confirmed as clean after the umpires consulted.
Clarke again went cheaply, getting only half forward to a ball from Siddle, before Craig Overton took a wicket with the third delivery of his second spell, Bancroft diving to his right at second slip to grab a brilliant one-handed catch as Ben Slater’s drive flew off the edge.
Abell’s bowling change paid off again as spinner Leach struck with his second delivery, James chipping back a simple return catch to fall for 32, leaving Notts looking suddenly slightly vulnerable, with Moores seemingly unable to bat. Gregory took his ninth wicket of the match when Liam Patterson-White’s thick edge was taken at gully but Hutton and skipper Steven Mullaney batted sensibly through to the close.
For their part, Somerset also suffered an injury setback as Davey limped out of the attack, unable to complete his 11th over after seemingly pulling a hamstring.